Fio­r­ina re­leases TV cam­paign ad

Demo­crat had asked a gen­eral to ad­dress her as ‘Sen­a­tor’ rather than as ‘Ma’am.’

Los Angeles Times - - Late Extra - Maeve Re­ston maeve.re­ston@latimes.com Times staff writer Robin Ab­car­ian con­trib­uted to this re­port.

GOP chal­lenger fo­cuses on 2009 “Ma’am” flap in­volv­ing Demo­cratic Sen. Bar­bara Boxer.

Repub­li­can Se­nate can­di­date Carly Fio­r­ina launched her first tele­vi­sion ad of the gen­eral elec­tion Thurs­day, play­ing on vot­ers’ frus­tra­tion with lead­ers in Washington by por­tray­ing Sen. Bar­bara Boxer as an ar­ro­gant politician caught up in the trap­pings of her of­fice.

Fio­r­ina’s ad hit the air­waves a week af­ter the Demo­cratic sen­a­tor launched a $2-mil­lion ad buy skew­er­ing her ri­val’s record as chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hewlett-Packard.

The Fio­r­ina spot does not touch on her busi­ness back­ground or give Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers a sense of the is­sues she has fo­cused on the cam­paign trail, most no­tably the econ­omy and fed­eral spend­ing.

In­stead, Fio­r­ina’s team seeks to draw at­ten­tion to Boxer’s some­times brusque man­ner by us­ing footage from a well-known ex­change be­tween Boxer and Army Corps of En­gi­neers Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh dur­ing a 2009 hear­ing of the Se­nate En­vi­ron­ment and Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee, which Boxer heads.

The clip be­gins just af­ter Walsh has ad­dressed Boxer as ‘Ma’am’: “You know, do me a fa­vor. Could you say ‘Sen­a­tor’ in­stead of ‘Ma’am’? It’s just a thing. I worked so hard to get that ti­tle, so I’d ap­pre­ci­ate it,” Boxer says to Walsh.

“Twenty-eight years in Washington, and Bar­bara Boxer works hard for a ti­tle?” Fio­r­ina says into the cam­era with a quick raise of her eye­brows. “I’ll re­ally go to work — to end the ar­ro­gance in Washington.” A close-up pho­to­graph of Boxer ap­pears with her name­plate dis­played promi­nently be­fore her — above a clos­ing slo­gan on­screen: “So wrong. Too long.”

Fio­r­ina’s cam­paign laid the ground­work for the ad months ago, dis­play­ing the clip promi­nently on its anti-Boxer web­site.

In a year in which un­em­ploy­ment is in dou­ble dig­its and vot­ers are im­pa­tient with the pace of the eco­nomic re­cov­ery, Fio­r­ina’s strate­gists be­lieve the moment will re­in­force the Repub­li­can can­di­date’s mes­sage that Boxer has lost touch with the wor­ries of av­er­age Cal­i­for­ni­ans.

Both Boxer and Walsh have said they have put the moment be­hind them.

When asked about it dur­ing her first de­bate with Fio­r­ina, Boxer said she had called Walsh af­ter the hear­ing to make sure she had caused no of­fense, and said she’d asked him to use her ti­tle be­cause it was a “for­mal hear­ing.”

“I made the call that I should call the gen­eral ‘gen­eral.’ And it would be bet­ter if he called me by my for­mal ti­tle,” Boxer said dur­ing the de­bate at St. Mary’s Col­lege in Mor­aga.

In an in­ter­view ear­lier this year she called Walsh “a re­ally good friend of mine” and in­vited Fio­r­ina to con­tinue ham­mer­ing her over that moment “be­cause that doesn’t speak to any­thing in this race which is, who re­ally is on the side of the peo­ple?” she said, adding that Fio­r­ina had a “hor­rific record” at Hewlett-Packard.

Boxer’s ad has faulted Fio­r­ina for earn­ing a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar salary, buy­ing a yacht, and ac­quir­ing five cor­po­rate jets for Hewlet­tPackard while lay­ing off some 30,000 work­ers. (The ad does not men­tion that the com­pany re­tired four jets in the process).

Boxer’s cam­paign man­ager, Rose Kapol­czyn­ski, brushed off Fio­r­ina’s new spot: “Cal­i­for­ni­ans are fed up with the ar­ro­gance of CEOs who take mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar bonuses and golden para­chutes while the mid­dle-class suf­fers. No won­der Fio­r­ina doesn’t say one word about her own record in this ad,” she said.

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